The Mazda 3 is one of the best cars in its class. Yet, no matter how good a product is, it needs a bit of tweaking to keep things interesting. This is what Mazda has done to its compact offering. Also known as the Axela in its domestic market of Japan, the current (third-generation) 3 was first seen in 2013.
The refreshed 3 receives subtle changes to its exterior design. The hawk-eyed among you may notice that the headlights are a bit different, as is the front bumper. Yet the curvaceous lines that we’ve loved since day one are still there to appreciate.
In true Mazda fashion, the biggest upgrades are found under that swoopy metal. The Japanese market benefits from a new 1.5-liter Skyactiv-D diesel motor, in addition to the potent yet efficient 2.2-liter Skyactiv-D oil-burner. Thanks to the vaunted Skyactiv tech lurking within the powerplant, the little 1.5-liter mill promises more-than-adequate performance and class-leading fuel economy.
The new motors also feature new technologies to make them both sound and feel better while on the move. The sound part is taken care of by a Natural Sound Frequency Control that essentially ensures that fuel-injection timing is kept at a precise point, which in turn aids in reducing the characteristic knock of a traditional diesel engine. Along with an integrated piston pin damper, engine noise and vibration levels are kept to a minimum and are even more pleasant, says Mazda.
Speaking of precise fuel-injection timing, this is also helpful in providing better acceleration and a more natural driving feel. In tune with the brand’s Jinba ittai or human-centered philosophy, the drive becomes more enjoyable.
Another noteworthy new feature found on the updated Mazda 3 is G-Vectoring Control. The first in a series of the upcoming Skyactiv Dynamics suite varies engine torque depending on steering input. This provides more integral control of both lateral and longitudinal forces. In plain English, this makes vehicle movement more natural and in tune with body sensations. It also gives drivers more confidence in tackling various situations, from the everyday commute to more critical collision-avoidance maneuvers.
Even the Active Driving Display has been redesigned for a safer time behind the wheel. It packs more vital information, is now in full color, and can even be adjusted to the driver’s line of sight. Besides this, stuff like Hazard Detection and Traffic Sign Recognition systems are also part of the mix. The former detects when the car in front turns on its hazard lights, while the latter warns drivers when the speed limit has been reached (or breached). Then there are the adaptive headlights that let you stay on bright yet are still intelligent enough to dim the settings when an oncoming car is spotted.
The refreshed Mazda 3 is now on sale in Japan. We’re pretty confident local Mazda distributor Berjaya Auto Philippines will bring it into our market with only a few of the toys removed. We can’t wait.